I am lucky enough to work and live in the glorious sunshine of the Mediterranean, on the Greek Ionian Islands. When I occasionally do get back to England to visit my family and friends. I am now often asked how things really are in Greece with their financial problems and the migrant crisis?
Financial problems caused by, Economic downturn
Thanks to the economic downturn which hit the global economy in 2008. Greece is experiencing a financial crisis unlike any other seen across Europe. The 45th largest Economy in the world. Greece has to repay a forbidding 319.5 billion euros by 2057. However, the Greek government is struggling to implement their so called “prior actions’. Economic changes and austerity measures sought by the country’s international creditors.
Included in these “prior actions “are higher taxes, cuts to pensions. An increasing retirement age, expanding property tax, liberalizing the energy market. Also, opening up cosseted professions and a program to privatize state assets. The Greek government has defended the controversial new programs as tough. But essential if the country is to avoid financial collapse.
Life goes on
Still life goes on as it always has and despite the burden of increased taxes and austerity measures on Greek families and businesses. The islands people are still just as friendly and welcoming to foreign visitors. The turquoise waters around the islands are still warm, crystal clear and inviting. The hot sun still shines on the many small villages up on the rocky hills or nestled among the harbours scattered around the islands. Read my blog about the island of Meganisi were I was invited into a Greek family’s home. For the Easter celebrations, and get a real sense of Greek Island culture.
Tourism in Greece
Greece relies heavily on tourism, which brings in 18% of their total GDP. The islands have seen a 20% increase in the number of tourists this year. Which just goes to show that there is no such thing as bad publicity. There were no shortages of food – like it was portrayed on the British media. I had no trouble getting cash or paying by credit card. In fact, more places now take credit cards than before. People just didn’t have enough actual cash to pay their bills with.
Occasionally I did have to queue at the cash machines, which could be a bit embarrassing. But not because I minded queuing. The Greeks could only draw a maximum of 60 euros per day from the, Greek banks using cash machines. But with a UK credit card you could draw whatever your banks limit was. So I used to draw 400 out each time. The racket the machine would make, counting the money, had everyone looking round at me. I used to leg it before anyone said anything. Ooh-Parr! as the Greeks would say. Embarrassing? yes. Cause for concern? no.
Greece is Safe
So life goes on and now Greece is even a safer option than troubled Turkey with their religious turmoil worsening. Yes, taxes have been increased in Greece. But with the euro exchange rate hovering between 1.30/1.40 it’s still an excellent, cheap holiday destination. A crewed luxury yacht charter is not just for the rich and famous. Follow this link to see our charter prices for 2016. You may be hearing bad things in the media. But trust me, if you came to Greece without hearing of the crisis, you wouldn’t have a clue.
This Blog is by Captain Cliff.
I will be happy to answer any questions,or comments that you may have. So please feel free to leave them. See my blog Special Offer.